Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en!

I made a costume for my son when he was about 4 and obsessed with everything to do with dinosaurs.  I had a book called Sew a Dinosaur - 21 playful prehistoric beasts to follow you home, which included a pattern for a kid-sized Triceratops costume.

The problem is, my son REALLY wanted to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex. They look nothing whatsoever like Triceratops.

Somehow or other, I did it.

Details:  The head pieces were cut from cheap alligator-print knit over 1" foam backed with lining (bloody red for the inside of the head).  The teeth and claws were more of the foam.  I had to bone the head to keep the jaws out front, and to prevent the top one collapsing.  Even so it wasn't the easiest costume for him to see out of.

The body is made without the foam.  The tail was a cone of the alligator print sewn over foam.  The base of the tail is circular, sewn to the back of the shirt.  To keep the tail from dragging, I attached an elastic belt to the SAs on the inside, and it fit snugly around my son's hips.  The tail stayed straight out and wiggled as he walked.

It was extremely cute, if I say so myself, and it was worn many times by many kids.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I made the same mistake ...

as Cidell.   All together now:  AAAAAARGH!

I made Kwik Sew 1680 (now oop).  

I didn't forget to check the stretch of the fabric against the little "stretch to here" diagram on the pattern envelope.  It passed in both directions.

I read Cidell's post and thought ... hmmm better check this so tried it on without elastic.  Seemed OK.

In the end (oooooh bad pun!!), it was too short.

My fix (no I don't think I'll be modelling it here).  Let's just call it a design feature.

This fabric is a swimsuit polyester made for Speedo but I won't wear this in the pool.  (The Sewing Lawyer feels it's her obligation to keep her personal trainer awed by her vast wardrobe of exercise togs.)  Inside is a shelf-bra made from the same super stretchy stuff (acquired in Montreal on PR weekend) that was used to line several sports bras, one of which can be seen here.

The fabric came from the Fabric Flea Market (you can find anything there, it seems).  Here's a tour through my FFM acquisitions.

 First, proof that this fabric really is Speedo, to the left.  $5 per metre.

Right, some regular nylon/lycra.  Same price (not as nice though).

 To the left is a soft shell fabric (I think probably Polartec).  It's a deeper colour than shown (at least on my monitor).  I have enough for a jacket.  Hello Jalie 2795!

This is a prize!  It's silk from Thailand, 3.5 metres for all of $25.  I thought it was an allover print (as below) but when I opened it up, turns out that half of it is a coordinating border print.  Need I add that it's entirely hand-painted?  Clearly it's intended for a specific type of use but I'm not sure exactly what.  Any ideas?

To the right is a lovely knit print.  I did a burn test which showed it is 100% natural, and washed/dried it in the machines without any change at all. It is definitely not rayon.  It seems too fine to be cotton.  I dunno.  It's pretty.  I seem to remember paying $15 for the piece (3m).
This one to the left isn't fairly represented because it's a really lovely deep purple rather than grey, in real life.  100% wool, lightweight and soft, $20 for the piece (another 3m).  A dress?
I could also join the white shirt sewing brigade with these two.  Pure cotton to the left (voile with more opaque woven-in floral pattern); lustrous cotton/silk to the right, also with woven-in pattern.  $30 for the 2 pieces.

Gotta get sewing....

Be still my beating heart

I regularly look at The Sartorialist.  Most of the time, meh.  But today...
Pablo Ramirez backstage
Oh my.

Which made me consult Mr. Google, and I found this...

Pablo Ramirez

Sunday, October 24, 2010

If there's a sewing gene, I got it from her

Photo explanation (to respond to some confusion in the comments):  these 6 young women are my grandmother (second from left) and 5 of her sisters.  The picture dates from sometime in the 1920s.  The oldest sister is on the far right (born 1888) and the youngest on the far left (born 1910).

My mother's mother (second from left) and her sisters sewed.  It was a practical necessity but my grandmother made much more of it.  She made many of her own and her 5 children's clothes.  For my mother and aunt, she made play clothes, school clothes, suits and beautiful prom dresses.

To the right, she's captured in a happy moment with my grandfather in the year before they married.  She was 24, wearing a coat of (perhaps) her own design with fur cuffed sleeves and a matching fur muff.  I would kill for those shoes!

To the left is a picture of my mother (taken when she was in her teens), wearing a gorgeous strapless dress that my grandmother made for her.

I never saw that one in real life, but clearly remember the fairy-princess white strapless ballerina-length prom dress that my mom would sometimes let me try on.  It had a  heavy satin "crumb-catcher" bodice with basque waist, a boned under-bodice with crumpled tulle scattered with rhinestones and seed pearls at the upper centre, and multiple layers of frothy tulle skirt.

It must be a gene that I inherited, because we never lived near my grandparents so she couldn't teach me to sew.

But my non-sewing mother did what she could (thanks Mom!) to encourage me and nurture what I seem to have inherited.

From my grandmother, aside from the sewing gene, I have souvenirs.

Her well used featherweight which replaced the treadle that may have been just like mine.

A length of celadon green silk brocade.

A gorgeous beaded sweater.  Taking it out of its annual summer storage yesterday made me think about my elegant and talented grandmother.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My label

There have been a few comments about my "The Sewing Lawyer" labels.  They're pretty nice, aren't they?  The size is 1" x 2" and they are woven, not printed.

They were a Christmas present last year from my husband, who also did the design.  As you can see from this well-travelled box, they originate in Hong Kong.  They were ordered from WorldwideLabel on Etsy.  

They also have a blog where you can see the huge variety of labels this company makes daily.  Mine shipped on December 28, 2009.  I can't remember when they arrived but it was all pretty efficient.

Hoping to have something else to sew one of them into soonish...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A finished object

In the aftermath of the Fabric Flea Market, I did muster enough energy to finish a sheath dress which had been in the planning for several years, and in the execution for several weeks.

I had purchased the fabric for this dress a couple of years ago on a flying trip to the Wool House when I was wearing  this jacket:

(I pause here to note that I hate Windows Live Writer.  When I first used it, it was brilliant.  Then I got a notice to update it.  Now I hate it.  I can no longer figure out how to format text around the photos – the previous version worked perfectly.  I think I’m going back to editing using Blogger.)

Back to the regularly scheduled blog.

As I was saying, I was wearing that jacket, which I seem to have made in November, 2007.  I know that because that's when I reviewed it on PatternReview (here).  I was having trouble finding pieces to coordinate with it – the fabric has some dark blue, some light blue, some creamy beige, but putting any of these colours next to it looked strangely wrong.  I dashed into the Wool House and asked for advice.  The man in the store led me straight back to the Zegna shelves and pulled out a bolt of the fabric I bought for my new finished object; this dress:

This fabric is thin, smooth, and I think it’s a blend of wool and mohair.  It has black and a grey-ey blue-y green-y threads and is an impossible-to-describe colour which somehow goes perfectly with that jacket.

This dress is made from a pattern I developed using PatternMaster Boutique or PMB.  I wrote all about it in a pattern review here.  I was thrilled to have a sheath dress that fit and that I thought looked pretty good.  I've never found a commercial pattern that did these two fairly simple things so this one is a keeper.

As soon as I bought the strangely-coloured fabric I knew it was going to be this dress.  Well, it had to be, because it was damnably expensive fabric and I only bought a small amount (I think 1.2 metres).  You see, another other great thing about this pattern is that it's a true fabric miser.

In this picture, the dress looks ripply and puckered.  I swear it does not look like that in real life.  Here's another picture, a sort of side view.  The pattern has lots of shaping seams - princess seams front and back and side seams and long shaping darts besides.

In the next pictures you can see a bit of the fabric up closer, if you click to open them.

They were taken in natural light so are somewhat truer to the actual strange colour which overall looks more green than blue.

Notice my not-perfect hand understitching at the neck edge.

To the right is the shoulder seam with princess seams meeting nicely.

The CB sports a simple slit opening for walking.  Notice the mitred corners.  The lining (Bemberg) is hand felled to the facing.  The dress is underlined with silk organza.  I decided not to serge the raw edges at seam allowances and hem to avoid show-through in the pressing, but found some black lace at the Fabric Flea Market which I used to finish the hem edge.  

And finally, it looks good with a jacket (or two).

Just tired…

That’s because the Fabric Flea Market was yesterday.  I hope everyone had a great time… the sales were good!

Here are a few scenes from before we opened the doors to let in the hundreds of people waiting outside.


Naturally, I augmented my own stash.  Oops. 

Please excuse me now… I’ve got to get sewing!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Fabric Flea Market, 2010 edition

I’m embroiled in the thick of organizing this … again … for the 16th time, actually.  Which is the partial explanation for why not much sewing is getting done chez The Sewing Lawyer.  Too much phoning, e-mailing, and keeping of The Lists – of vendors, of buyers, of hundreds of e-mail addresses of the FFM Fans who must be notified.

So what exactly is this event?  Why, it’s a sale of fabric, patterns, yarn, notions, books and anything else you might imagine that could be sewn, knitted, crocheted or otherwise stuck with a needle.  Our slogan?  “You Never Know What You Will Find!”

The proceeds come from the door (where we charge $2 to get in); the vendors (who pay us 15% of what they sell, or a minimum of $25); and from selling donations of fabric, patterns etc.  We give the proceeds to a local public school whose student population is largely from new Canadian families.  Their families don’t have much extra money or time to devote to fundraising for the little extras (extracurricular activities, school outings, breakfast program, etc.) that the boards won’t pay for any more. 

The vendors are a combination of:
  • Sewists and knitters who have reached or are worried about reaching SABLE (that’s Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy for the uninitiated) and need to unload some (perhaps so they can buy more);
  • Vintage textile specialists:  who knows where they find what they sell – always fascinating!  Last year, one vendor was selling feathers gleaned from the estate of a milliner;
  • Notion specialists:  one of our vendors sells extremely fancy dog leashes out of the most amazingly beautiful braids - she brings the braid itself to the Fabric Flea Market; another deals exclusively in vintage buttons;
  • People who are selling donated stuff to raise money for their own charities:  one vendor always brings a huge team to raise money for the Humane Society; we’ve also had people raising money for churches and an orchestra; and
  • People who have cottage sewing or other businesses who are either selling off ends or closing up shop.
Every year we ask ourselves the same questions.  Can we get the word out?  Will we get donations?  Will we be able to sign up vendors to fill the hall?  Will everyone show up to sell?  Will anyone show up to buy?  Will we raise as much as last year?  Can we do it – one – more – time for the kids?

For anyone in Ottawa, come to the Glebe Community Centre for 10AM on Saturday October 16.  It’ll be an intense four hours!

A picture (or several) tell the story best.  Here’s  a sampling from last year’s sale.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Life got in the way …

It has been a while!  In the last several weeks I’ve coped with deadlines at work and a minor plumbing disaster on the home front, all the while continuing with the annual work to organize the Fabric Flea Market.  More on that in a post to come; but if anyone reading this is planning to be in Ottawa on October 16, get yourself to the Glebe Community Centre for 10AM.  It will look something like this:DSCN2290 Yup, that’s a room full of fabric, patterns, notions, yarn, books and supplies of all kinds for sewers, knitters, needleworkers, weavers, and followers of other fiberly pursuits.   We had 1,500 people through the doors last year in 4 hours and everybody leaves the sale happy!
Anyhow, all this real life stuff got in the way of my blogging, but more importantly it also got in the way of my sewing!  This is why it has taken me weeks to complete the unlined shirt-jacket which I’ll now tell you about.
I'm really going to enjoy wearing it!  It's made of a very fluid wool crepe, purchased at Tissus Couture-Elle in Montreal during PR Weekend in May (it already seems like half a lifetime ago...).   TIM11556The apparent colour is a dark-ish khaki; the fabric is actually a twist of black and a mossy green. 
This is one of my 3 ghostly garments –probably  the one that looked the least interesting to you.  I was just checking for armscye depth – this is a Burda pattern from the 1990s.  Sure enough, it turns out the armscyes were too low; I couldn’t raise my arm without the body of the jacket coming along for the ride.  So I fixed that, and now I have a shirt-jacket I really like. 
TIM11509 First, here’s the proof that I needed the alteration to make the armscye smaller and higher, to increase my mobility. 

The solution is super-simple.  I added approximately 2.5cm (1”) DSCN3241as you can see here. 

This was done on the front, back and both sides of the sleeve (it’s a one piece shirt-style sleeve).  No other adjustments were needed.  The sleeve cap and shoulder remain the same. 

Let’s see; what else to tell you…

  Burda 3093 EnvelopeHere’s the pattern I used.  It’s long out of print.  I made it when it was new and wore the jacket (along with the matching trousers and skirt) practically to death.  It is pretty straightforward – fronts with side-seam bust darts; back is perfectly plain; side slits; shirt-style collar and cuffs; concealed button closure.  I had modified the collar so it has a partial stand and just made it up the same again.

I did a Hong Kong finish on all inner seams and edges.  What a great way to make an unlined garment look as good on the inside as it does on the outside! 

To the left you can see the completed armscye and side seam, both bound with bias strips of lining fabric.  At the top is the shoulder pad which is covered with the same fabric. 

 DSCN3245The next photo shows the concealed button closure.  I used a decorative button at the top, and plain ones where they are hidden. 

Then there is the most prominent feature:  the pockets.  These are bellows pockets with flaps.  I’ll say I didn’t interface the flaps because I wanted to keep the jacket very soft; the reality is that … um … I just forgot.  I applied the patch pockets by hand.  The grey thread I used is completely invisible on the inside. 

Here’s a close up of the decorative button – they are sort of like wire spaghetti.